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Southbank puts brakes on FCBS overhaul

London’s Southbank Centre has agreed to pause and reconsider FCBS’s plans for the Brutalist structure following criticism from Cabe

The Southbank Centre has been granted extra time to review the £120 million scheme which will now be considered for planning permission in the autumn.  

The move comes amid high-profile criticism from the neighbouring National Theatre and also from Cabe which said Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) needed more time to ‘create a scheme that fully lives up to the significance of the Southbank Centre’.

Other critics include the skateboarders threatened with displacement who have mounted a ‘village green’ challenge and the Twentieth Century Society which demanded ‘a fresh approach and new thinking’.

Submitted for planned in May, the 28,000m² Festival Wing project proposes a new glazed ‘liner’ building and semi-transparent sky pavilion above the Brutalist concrete complex.

The National Theatre and Twentieth Century Society have both raised concerns over the ‘wedge-like’ impact of the ‘liner’ while the skateboarders’ challenge has focused on the relocation of a skatepark to nearby Hungerford Bridge.

While the ‘liner’ and sky pavilion are supported in principle by Cabe, the design watchdog has called for both elements to be reduced in footprint and further refined.

In a statement, the Southbank Centre said: ‘[We] believe passionately in finding ways for as many different people as possible to become involved in arts and culture and to feel welcome on our site.

‘The Festival Wing project has huge potential to reach out and change the lives of thousands of local children and young people who currently have very few opportunities and to give new space to the widest range of community arts. But we also want our skateboarders, street writers and BMXers to continue to think of this as their home.

‘It is for this reason that we have asked Lambeth Council to allow us more time to review whether our scheme is achieving the very best balance of opportunities for current and future generations, and they have agreed to this.

‘Over the next few weeks we will work with our communities to find the best way of balancing everyone’s needs in demanding financial times so we can achieve this ambitious project.’


The festival Wing

The Southbank Concert Halls opened in 1968 as part of a London County Council-backed masterplan for the post-industrial area’s transformation. The complex's redevelopment has been masterplanned by Rick Mather since 1999


The Southbank Concert Halls opened in 1968 as part of a London County Council-backed masterplan for the post-industrial area’s transformation. The complex’s redevelopment has been masterplanned by Rick Mather since 1999


Queen Elizabeth Hall
The auditorium will be refurbished with the width of the stage expanded to create wing space with less impact on sightlines. Artistic and technical facilities will be upgraded along with back of house and disability access. New access will be provided to central foyer.

Purcell Room
Auditorium and back of house will be refurbished to improved stage access. technical facilities and disability access are to be upgraded. A new entrance will create access from the central foyer.

Hayward Gallery
Galleries to be refurbishing with improved access through spaces to enable free exhibitions. The iconic pyramid roof will be replicated to improve lighting and be made watertight. Access to the central foyer and a new secure loading bay will be created.

New Central Foyer
A glazed atrium between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery is planned as an ‘artistic and social hub’ linking the complex to the British Film Institute and National Theatre.

Glass Pavilion
A floating venue designed to hold a 150-strong orchestra and a choir of up to 250 people with a small audience. It will also host corporate events

The ‘liner’ building
Between the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Waterloo Bridge, the glazed ‘liner’ building will provide space for educational, artistic and commercial cultural uses. Designed as a large flexible space, the flexible space will host a broader, year-round education programme for all age groups and abilities. The Saison Poetry Library will move from Level 5 in the Royal Festival Hall to join a literature and spoken word space in a new literature centre, and two new restaurants will overlook the river.

Undercrofts will be reclaimed for artistic and cultural uses; including a new venue for gigs, dance, cabaret, music and spoken word events and a space for young people.

Heritage and Archive Space
Occupying the undercoft, the public facility will explore the site’s history and include hands-on installations.

Kid’s area
Designed for children and families, the undercroft facility will feature storytelling and interactive activities alongside exhibitions and a family restaurant. It will also be home to the childrens’ collection of the Poetry Library.

Green spaces
New public spaces include a square and two new roof gardens.

Urban arts
New riverside area for skateboarders, BMX and graffiti located under Hungerford Bridge and visible to the public from Queen’s Walk

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